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Interactions among individuals in social groups lead to the emergence of collective behaviour at large scales by means of multiplicative non-linear effects. Group foraging, nest building and task allocation are just some well-known examples present in social insects. However the precise mechanisms at the individual level that trigger and amplify social phenomena are not fully understood. Here we show evidence of complex dynamics in groups of the termite, Cornitermes cumulans (Kollar) (Isoptera: Termitidae), of different sizes and qualitatively compare the behaviour observed with that exhibited by agent-based computer models. It is then concluded that certain aspects of social behaviour in insects have a universal basis common to interconnected systems and that this may be useful for understanding the temporal dynamics of systems displaying social behaviour in general.